by Christian Duque
Bodybuilding fans all over the world have taken to the message boards and groups to talk about the departure of Lee from RX. The announcement sent shockwaves throughout the sport’s most fanatical adherents. The reality of the matter is that legends like Lee are few and far between. This is a man that has a track record of standing up to the man no matter what. He never takes a backward step and he always speaks his mind. The fans respect that level of transparency in a sport that is unfortunately plagued by hustlers and con men.
Sometimes the greatest thing you can hear is the truth. Sometimes the truth isn’t fancy and maybe it isn’t all that exciting but it is the truth and Lee has always been a man of the truth. Even though at times he may not be a huge fan of mine, I have always been a huge fan of his for the simple fact that when push comes to shove, that’s the kind of guy you want in your corner.
Lee has constantly put it all on the line to stand for what he believes is right. I think his addition to RX made all the sense in the world given that that website is always the holy grail of hardcore bodybuilding. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and when news came out of the departure it sent shockwaves throughout the fitness industry. Now the question is what is next for this legendary bodybuilder that dominated three federations in NABBA, the PDI, and the IFBB? No one can ever forget how much damage this guy did and all the while he was barely 5’4. When you think of the quintessential giant killers, guys like Lee Priest come into play.
Lee finished Top 6 in the open Olympia. And not just any Olympia either, but back when the Olympia was all about size with class. These guys were monsters. This was the heyday of Ronnie Coleman and Chris Cormier. These guys hit the stage with tremendous amounts of muscle, deep striations, and vascularity unlike anything we have seen in the last 20 years. Lee was battling with guys that outweighed him by a good 50lb and were sometimes as much as an entire foot taller than him. But with his killer forearms and his will to win he was a formidable opponent on any stage that he got on. He even beat Chris at San Francisco and was able to give even the very best of the best a run for their money.
That history has not been lost upon today’s fans. They remember it warmly and still to this day they wish for the day they would see Lee make a comeback to the professional bodybuilding world. Even at well over 50 years of age he would still present a very real threat to any competitor in 2024. This is not to say that the guys today are not as good as the guys in yesteryear but it is to say that Lee remains very competitive regardless of his age and regardless of how long he has been off the stage.
I have to say that what Lee has been able to accomplish as a regular contributor to RX Muscle has been nothing short of amazing. The fans have really discovered the funny side of this incredibly gifted bodybuilder. It’s one thing to have a great physique but it’s quite another to be able to be entertaining for an hour. It’s very difficult to be able to stay on the air whether co-hosting with someone else or sometimes with 10 other people. Lee has been able to show that he can come up with material on the fly and he can keep a show interesting no matter how long it is. This is not something that just any bodybuilder can do. Many people actually believe that he would be amazing as an MC but unfortunately he has burned so many bridges because of the fact of his sheer honesty that it may be difficult for him to land those types of jobs.
That being said I think any promoter would have a blockbuster competition if Lee was on the microphone. He would know exactly how to keep the audience engaged, he would know how to keep the athletes in the zone, and he would really provide a world-class production. However politics would never allow it at least not anytime soon. And yes, Lee would be among the first to tell you that politics is a thing in bodybuilding.
The reality of the matter is that Lee is just not making the money. According to his own words he is tired of putting in all the effort to literally walk away with nothing. We all know that he’s a gifted broadcaster and we all know that he is one of the best entertainers in the sport of bodybuilding, however nobody should work for free. While many people thought Lee may have been kidding, I entirely understand where he is coming from. I love bodybuilding but if bodybuilding did not pay me and did not keep me afloat I probably would not do all of the work that I do. In a very real way, time is money and hobbies are hobbies but you can’t spend considerable amounts of time each week on a hobby. You just can’t do it in the real world.
Lee is somebody that is very gifted and very talented so if the money is not there heart and passion can’t fill in the void indefinitely. If he really is moving on and has found a career that’s going to reward him for his efforts then I say more power to him. I wish that podcasting could give him the kind of living that he wants but it seems like it just cannot at the present time.
Bodybuilding fans all over the world are in utter disbelief. Many fans have taken to social media in tears hoping that the Australian legend is in fact just bluffing. I think he feels their pain but must do what’s right for him and his family. like I said a hobby is fine if it’s just an hour or two a week. When you put in the kind of time that a podcast requires week in and week out, that’s no longer a hobby. That’s basically a job. a job that doesn’t pay you but it requires a truckload of your time and effort. I don’t think it’s all that surprising if the money isn’t there – the interest is going to subside.
Let’s see what happens. Only time will tell. I have a feeling that Lee will figure out a way to hang in there, but why should he? He needs to be paid the right way. I don’t know what arrangement he has with RX or other podcasts. Getting a $100 per video when you’re at Lee’s stature is a little iffy.
When we had IronMag TV, most of our shows got $75 to $300 per episode – and that was in 2017. According to CPI Inflation Calculator, $300 in 2017 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $375 today, an increase of $75.42 over 7 years.
Some of our former top talent were making nearly 4x what Lee purportedly makes per appearance today. $100 in 2017 is ok but in 2024 for a guy on Lee’s level is pretty cheap.
Again, if the money isn’t right, no one is forcing him to do it, but imagine if he’s on a 2-3hr show and all he gets is $100. He could do better working a shift at Walmart saying hi to people that walk in. If he’s doing it out of love of the sport – great. If he’s doing it to supplement his income, he’s not going to be supplementing it much.
No one should question Lee’s love of bodybuilding, though; we all need to make a living. If he’s just joking – great. If he’s not, no one can give him shit for wanting to get paid better money.